Last hurrah on the water

It looks like our weather finally is starting to get a little bit more winter-like this week after quite a few nice days over the past month.
Earlier in the week, I got out on Lake of the Woods to film my final TV show of the season and we were lucky to get a beautiful day to chase muskies.
Over the past three seasons of filming my TV program, “Fishing with Gussy,” we’ve had nothing but bad luck trying to film a musky show.
We have had days where we’ve had up to 10 fish follow and nip at our baits without any catches. Other days we’ve gone without much action at all.
I was starting to feel like I had some kind of curse with having to catch these fish on camera.
The funny thing is, during any bass tournament I fish on water that has muskies, I always seem to catch a few. Over the past couple of years, in fact, my partners and I have caught several muskies during the KBI and Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
But I can’t catch one when I actually fish for them!
Earlier this week, I got out on the water with my buddy, Mike Reid. He’s originally from Sioux Narrows and we have fished together since we were teenagers. He is one of the best anglers I know and though he doesn’t live on Lake of the Woods anymore, he gets back quite often in the fall to chase muskies.
Back in September, along with his partner, Shaun Puddester, they won the Nestor Falls Musky Cup—showing up without any pre-fishing against some of the best musky anglers on the lake.
So when he was able to take me out this week, I felt pretty lucky.
While trolling large crankbaits has long been the most popular tactic during the late fall for hard-core musky anglers, Mike has been busy pioneering how to catch these big predators on large, soft plastic baits over the past couple of years.
Although he’s certainly not the only angler on Lake of the Woods throwing these big soft plastic baits around, he has put in the time to figure out how to catch muskies in ways that are not widely-popular on a lake that receives a lot of angling pressure.
There are two types of soft plastic baits that he is using. The first is a Bulldog-type lure, which are large, foot-long hunks of rubber with a long grub-like tail on them.
They are designed to be cast out and reeled in slowly. The long tail creates a very enticing action.
The second type of bait gaining in popularity is the Bondy Bait, which is a heavy chunk of lead with plastic molded around it to create the look of a large baitfish like a cisco or whitefish, which are what muskies are keyed in on eating right now.
These baits are about 10 inches long and weigh four-five ounces. They were designed for fishing the heavy current of the Detroit River, but anglers are finding that they work very well on our Canadian Shield lakes, as well, especially around current areas, where anglers can drift and jig the bait up and down just above the bottom.
We had a great day fishing this week, capped off with Mike catching the biggest musky I’ve ever had my hands on—a 30-pound plus monster that ate his Bulldog.
It always pays to experiment with new lures and techniques to stay ahead of the game and continue the learning process.
There still will be a few muskies left to catch this weekend, but we’re going to quickly run out of open water, I’m afraid.
After an open-water season that started for me last February in Florida, I’m calling it a season and am going to do a little bit of hunting before the ice season starts soon enough.